The road to this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park has been rewarding for Nick and Jaqui de Meric of de Meric Thoroughbred Sales.
The Ocala, Fla.-based operation's Breeders' Cup contingent appears formidable with training and sale graduates Concave (Juvenile Fillies, gr. I), Ready to Act (Juvenile Fillies Turf, gr. IT), Capo Bastone (Geico Turf Sprint, gr. IT) and Sum of the Parts (Xpressbet Sprint, gr. I) all aiming for Breeders' Cup glory.
Concave, a winner in two of three career starts, drew post position 6 for the $2 million Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 2. The $75,000 pinhook at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale sold the following March to Reddam Racing for $160,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sale Co.'s selected sale of 2-year-olds in training.
A daughter of first-crop sire Colonel John, Concave registered a stylish win in her career debut at Betfair Hollywood Park in July, taking a five-furlong turf dash by 3 1/2 lengths for trainer Doug O'Neill. She annexed Del Mar's Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) at 6 1/2 furlongs in her next outing, running down She's A Tiger close to home.
She's a Tiger turned the tables on Concave when they next met in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs. Concave rated behind runners early, came out in the stretch, but was unable to make an impression on the winner, finishing third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.
"She is like a lot of the Colonel Johns, comes in a plain brown wrapper and was always a low maintenance sort," Nick de Meric said. "She never missed a beat the whole winter.
"When she began a work schedule, she took to it like a duck to water," he added. "She rapidly climbed the ranks among the fillies in the consignment. She was always a pleasure to work around and had an even-tempered disposition and a willing approach to her work. Physically, she has a long shoulder and a deep girth for her size with good balance and overall athleticism."
De Meric Sales also buys and trains runners for Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence, connections that will send out Ready to Act in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf Nov. 1 and Sum of the Parts in the $1.5 million Sprint Nov. 2.
Ready to Act, trained by Chad Brown, won the first start of her career at Saratoga Race Course in July, taking a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on the turf.
On the strength of the facile score in her debut, Ready to Act was made the favorite in the Natalma Stakes (gr. IIT) at one mile over the turf at Woodbine. Under Rajiv Maragh, Ready to Act broke slowly but quickly recovered and pressed the pace throughout. She took command turning for home and opened a two-length lead in mid stretch.
Seemingly on her way to victory, Ready to Act, in a dramatic turn of events, ducked in, hit the rail, and unseated her rider.
"She threw us all a bit of a curve ball in the Natalma," de Meric said, "but she has yet to be really tested. In Chad Brown's capable hands, I am sure the best is yet to come. She's a strongly made, well-proportioned sort with a positive attitude and a professional approach to everything she does."
Sum of the Parts, a son of champion sprinter Speightstown , is out of the brilliant race mare and multiple graded stakes winner Enjoy the Moment. He is a graduate of the 2011 Barretts Equine Limited March 2-year-old sale, where he was sold for $150,000 by Eddie Woods, agent.
Trained by Tom Amoss, Sum of the Parts is a two-time winner of the Stoll Keenan Ogden Phoenix Stakes (gr.III) at Keeneland, and he finished fourth in last year's Sprint after setting the early pace.
Capo Bastone, a $175,000 purchase out of the de Meric Sales' consignment at the 2012 OBS selected sale of 2-year-olds in training, scored a 28-1 surprise win for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trainer Todd Pletcher in this year's King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
Third in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), Capo Bastone seems to have found his niche sprinting. The chestnut son of Street Boss received his early training lessons from Danny Pate of Solitary Oak in Morriston, Fla.
"I had monitored his progress during the winter, and he impressed every time I saw him work," de Meric said. "At the sale he underscored his early promise with a salty work, skimming over the track with his customary low, efficient action, which was widely noticed by the horsemen present. He was at that time a fairly high octane individual with a 'Let's get on with it' attitude and plenty of desire to run. He is also a beautifully conformed colt with a smooth top line and a racy profile."